//History today: the beauty of mainland Greece

History today: the beauty of mainland Greece

With the largest coastline on the Mediterranean and located at the historical crossing point of Europe, Africa and Asia, Greece is simply unmissable.

Renowned for its unspoilt fishing villages, fascinating archaeological sites, postcard-perfect coastlines and delicious and authentic food, mainland Greece offers the perfect Mediterranean escape. Here we pick three destinations deserving of your attention.

Home to one of the largest and most important group of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the country, Meteora is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Perched upon jutting rocks, these incredible buildings combine history with geographical wonder, resulting in one of Greece’s most spectacular sights. Meterora itself means ‘hovering in the air’, and the region is home to the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, containing a 14th century katholikon church, as well as the difficult-to-reach Monastery of the Holy Trinity, where visitors have to cross a valley climb 140 or so steps to reach its entrance. James Bond fans make recognise it from For Your Eyes Only. Meteora is served by the nearby towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki.
Getting there: A train to Kalambaka station from Athens takes five hours and 20 minutes, and there are also seasonal flights from London to Kalamata Airport, which is two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Meteora.

Founded in the sixth century, the breathtaking medieval tower town of Monemvasiá is a popular wedding location, given its dramatic backdrops. Located on the southeastern coast of the Peloponnese, this peaceful and isolated town is built into the side of a rockface 100 metres above sea level. Residents live in the cobblestone lower town, home to four working churches and a handful of restaurants and hotels. The deserted upper town, the original fortress,
is ripe for exploration.
Getting there: Almost seperated from the mainland bar a short causeway, the town is around three-and-a-half hours by bus from Athens, and six hours by ferry from Piraeus.

A mountain in southeastern Thessaly, Pelion offers a chance ot authentic, small-town Greek life. Surrounded by fishing villages and deserted beaches, with stone buildings carved out of grey and blue slate and red clay.  Of the 24 villages circling Pelion, Portaria, at the foot of  the mountain, is the most cosmopolitan, but provides a gateway to sea and ski resorts. Boasting luxurious hotels, traditional hostels, restaurants and tavernas, coffee houses, bars and shops, it’s the busiest village in the region. Alternatively, there’s Tsagkarada, found 500 metres above sea level on the eastern side of Pelion. A wild frontier of Greece, its dense forests and sparsely populated village look out to the azure Aegean Sea. Pelion’s highest summit, Stavros, is 1.624 metres, stretching for around 50km, and is loved by thrill-seekers.
Getting there: Seasonal direct flights connect London and Volos. Alternatively, there are year-round flights to Thessaloniki, which is two hours’ drive to Volos.